Sunday, March 10, 2024

Album of the Month - February 2024: Fearbirds - 'Aux Blood'

Last month I mentioned how Kevin Keegan and Devon Motz were guest vocalists on the Brugada album. In digging into the guests I was unfamiliar with, specifically Motz in this case, I stumbled upon Fearbirds and their debut album, 'Aux Blood'. As it turns out, both Motz and Keegan are in Fearbirds. I'm tellin' ya, man. Everybody knows each other out in that West Coast/Vancouver scene. So in Fearbirds we've got Motz (Brass) on vocals, Keegan (Dead Quiet, Barn Burner) on guitar (and vocals), Heron's Scott Bartlett on bass, and Taylor Freund (best known from Barn Burner) on drums. I'm a big Barn Burner fan so immediately I was in.

Upon hearing this goddamn ripper of an album I was definitely in. It's the kind of hardcore/metal hybrid that grabs your shirt right at your throat and doesn't let go. Totally in your face. Bruising. Hot breath in your ears. Constantly in motion, vibrating. Urging you, compelling you, forcing you to join in. 

Hardcore is kinda like that, I suppose. A lot of the bands out Vancouver way are kinda like that. Listening to this gave me a craving for some Baptists and some Bison. A triple dose of head-clobbering. I quickly returned to the present and planted my feet firmly for additional onslaughts of 'Aux Blood'. Is that what trickles out of my ear when I've got this cranked? It's imperative though. Max volume. The riffs demand it. The percussion and vocals demand it. 

Alright, I gotta say this even though I don't like making too many bad comparisons. Most likely what's made me connect to this album the most, member familiarity aside, is how much it reminds me of the band I Hate Sally. I've seen Barn Burner and I Hate Sally play the same stage so there's a connection there too. (Not at the same time but the guitarist from IHS put on shows BB played.) Fearbirds employ a similar feeling on a bunch of tracks. The shape of the songs, the elasticity of movement that lands a kidney shot over and over, and a sharp energy channeled right from the very earth. They gallop over the same ground at different times, on different missions. Hardcore muscle powering the killing edge of metal. 

Anyway. You get what I'm saying. I've dropped enough names already. Now drop what you're doing and check 'Aux Blood' out. 

February Spotify Playlist

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Album of the Month - January 2024: Brugada - 'To Slow Death and Fast Riffs'


"Better late than never" applies to this post in a couple ways. First, the post is a few weeks late. Second, the album is a few years late. But that's better than not at all! WAY better. Honestly, I wasn't sure 'To Slow Death and Fast Riffs' would ever see the light of day.

You see, Brugada was basically over before it even started. Well, let's back it up even more. Brugada members Rob Zawistowski and Adam Young were in a rad band called Asktrakhan and put out a handful of kick ass releases ending in 2018's amazing 'Without New Growth Process Is Bloodshed' in early 2018. Sadly that album never saw a physical release and the band split with Zawistowski and Young forming Brugada. They posted a couple small samples/live videos, just enough to get the feel of it. Similar enough in the progressive sludge sorta style but obviously a little more aggressive. Then nothing. For years. Until one day I get a message from Rob along the lines of "Hey, Matt. Guess what's finally coming out." I may have familiarized that a bit but whatever. I might not have known otherwise though! Here, start listening while you read the rest. (It's not on the regular streamers.)

'Slow Death' opens with "Bangar 18" and doesn't waste any time spreading their tools out. Hard-driving riffs, passionate roars, tight, spidery excursions around the fretboard, and the percussive complexity to match. The poetry of violence. That's kind of the feeling I get from the whole album in a way. There's a violence to it but it's not blind. It's pensive and self-aware. The lyrics are included on Bandcamp (but not on the J-card of the cassette available from Tone Zone Records) so you can see what I mean.

How can I expand on this? Let's go with feeling. It FEELS hard. Sharp. One second a series of quick punches. The next, slicing. And often enough it breathes, taking in air for the next push. Highs, lows, quick transitions. Vocally as well we've got a whole spectrum of tones and volume reflecting the lyrics. That's where the real poetry is. I've always liked that about the works these guys have done.

On Bandcamp the band have the line "Fast and fun. Mean, and sassy". I can't argue with that. I can't argue with "progressive sludge" either despite that term's association with bands like Mastodon and Baroness. I mean, heavyiness with a sort of thrashy, hardcore edge mated to melody and technicality with a healthy dose of rage sounds about right to me. In Brugada's case maybe a little more rage. Fun rage. A quick burning rage that exhausted all its fuel since this album is all we'll get from them. That's ok because it's awesome!

I'm not sure what else to say. I loved Asktrakhan, I love Brugada. I just love this style. Wicked riffs, cool vocals, bangin' drums, and the technicality is woven into the fabric keeping the songs tight and to the point. If that wasn't enough there are some guest vocalists. Jeff Radomsky of Neck of the Woods on "A Nod to Process" (total banger), Twitchy Claire Carreras (Vancouver scene vet) on "Return to Bangar" (total banger), Kevin Keegan (Dead Quiet, Barn Burner) on "Skin and Blood" (total banger), and Devond Motz (Brass) on "Spaceman" (total banger).

It's just a total banger.

Yeah. 'To Slow Death and Fast Riffs' kicks ass. It rips. It rages. You need to hear it. And here's the video for "Bossfight".

Brugada - Bossfight (Official Music Video) from Robert Zawistowski on Vimeo.

January Spotify Playlist